Cover Crop Field Days and Cost-Share Opportunities for Wabash County Farmers
The Wabash County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is very fortunate to work with many great partners and through these partnerships several opportunities are available for Wabash County Farmers and/or Landowners to learn about cover crops and apply for conservation cost-share assistance.
First, why would you even plant a cover crop? Rob Shellhamer, Wabash County SWCD Chairman, and his wife Kim are no till farmers who have incorporated cover crops into their farming management practice. Rob says, “Cover crops reduce erosion, grow roots that can penetrate the soil and leave channels for crop roots deeper than any tillage tool, keep leftover nitrogen from leaching away over winter, and provide a means to keep beneficial soil organisms active between cropping seasons. I look at them as an investment in the long term productivity of the soil I farm”.
The Wabash County SWCD will be hosting a cover crop field day at the Wabash County Farm on Thursday August 25th. The guest speaker will be Roger Wenning, a farmer from Decatur County, who will demonstrate his rain simulator and the difference in water run-off between a plot seeded with cover crops and one without. Roger brings with him years of cover crop experience and shares this great advice, “Make friends with somebody who’s already doing it (conservation farming) and ask questions.” Roger will be more than happy to answer any of your questions on the 25th, along with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Area Soil Scientist, Scot Haley and Wabash County NRCS District Conservationist, Adam Jones.
The Wabash County SWCD has cost-share assistance available throughout the county. If you farm in the Middle Eel River Watershed the districts Lake and River Enhancement Grant has been accepted for 2016. You can apply for up to 300 acres of cover crops and the cost-share reimbursement is $35.00 an acre. If you farm in the Beargrass Creek Watershed within the Middle Eel the district is now taking applications for the IDEM Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant cost-share funds through Manchester University. These funds are for cover crops, but also other conservation practices.
If you own land in the Wabash River Watershed there are still funds available through the 2015 Clean Water Indiana (CWI) Grant Program the Wabash County SWCD and the Miami County SWCD share. The maximum amount of acres that you can apply for is 100 and the cost-share reimbursement is $20.00 an acre. If you applied for either of these programs last year you may reapply, but preference will be given to first time applications.
Do you farm in the Lower Salamonie River Watershed? The Huntington County SWCD has cost-share funds available through their IDEM Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant for portions of Wabash County. This grant will cover several conservation practices, including cover crops. They will also be hosting a cover crop field day on Wednesday August 31st that will be held in south-eastern Huntington County at Adam Jones’s farm located on St. Rd 3, approximately 1 ½ miles north of St. Rd 218. Guest speakers will be Gerry Davis from Bryon Seeds, Scot Haley and Adam Jones.
NRCS has many different programs that landowners can take advantage of and one that has been very successful in Wabash County is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. EQIP dollars can be used for soil health practices like no till and cover crops, but can also assist with wildlife enhancement, manure management, water quality practices and forestry management. EQIP is a continual sign-up and can be applied for no matter where you own land in the county.
Call the Wabash County SWCD at 260-563-7486 ext. 3 or stop by the office at 599 Bryan Avenue to find out more information about any of these opportunities. The Wabash County SWCD Board of Supervisors have personal experience in using cover crops and would love to help you succeed! Please contact us if you ever have any questions, a SWCD Board Member or Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Staff Member can help you.